It's been a cracking week this week. Two big wins for Manchester United, a pretty blonde came to visit and I've found myself being chauffeured to and from pubs allowing the old ale to flow and witty banter to eminent from my clouded stupor. Whether it's been Mr Taxi or Mr Mate who's been doing the driving however, there's been one constant - Mr used Ford Focus.
So why is everyone driving a used Ford? Surely engineering mate, call centre mate and council worker mate are sufficiently different in their genes to crave a different mode of transport than a generic used Ford Focus? Well the answer is quite simple, whilst the wallet size may be different, just as my friends agree that hanging out with myself is a good choice, so the Focus (probably far more reliably) is the best medium sized car that fits all their criteria.
Launched in 1998, the Ford Focus has not only become Britain's best selling car, but was the planet's largest selling car in 2001 and 2002. The popularity of the Focus is unsurprising. The car's looks continued the ‘New Edge’ design - Ford's drastic design departure first seen on the Ka and Cougar - a design that has seen many manufacturers imitate the angular design cues themselves. The Focus wasn't all show however, coupled with its new looks, the Ford's drivability, reliability and practically all scored highly when reviewed making the Focus not only a good all-rounder, but the best in its class in nearly every facet of owning a car.
I'm not one to go all wiggly over suspension either - I'm far more of a 0-60 seconds performance type writer, but in this instance I'll make an exception. The Focus featured the ‘Control Blade’ suspension system, which at the risk of writing the least catchy line in my journalistic career was: a highly sophisticated fully independent multi link rear suspension (shall we stick with ‘Control Blade?!) Essentially this meant the Focus gained class leading handling, as the production of such advanced suspension was normally reserved for cars not so tightly financially ring-fenced (as was the case with Ford's competitors). Ingenuously though, Ford was able to design and manufacture the system in a cost effective manner and customers reaped the benefits.
To marry deft handling with a strong engine is always the holy grail for any car maker. The Focus strived to meet the needs of its wide demographic and offered a choice of six engines, ranging from a 1.4 petrol, through to a 2 litre version. The car itself was available in either a 3 or 5 door hatchback or 4 door saloon. All featured a completely new interior design that polarised many with its sweeping curves and dials. Personally I think it's a triumph, although the indicator tick is slightly overpowering - now I am clutching at straws.
Production continued until 2004 when the current Mk II model was launched. Built upon the same platform as the Mk I - with ‘Control Blade’ in place wouldn't you? - the new model is larger than its predecessor but it's also safer, with the Focus achieving the highest NCAP safety scores ever for a car in its class.
The styling isn't as radical compared to the Escort to Focus changeover in 1998, but the more subtle curves give the new Focus a more grown up, mature aura which Ford is only happy to go along with. The interior has also been embraced by all reviewers this time around, with a typically German sense of subtle styling and quality throughout.
Engines remain largely unchanged in principal, although they have been slightly re-designed and are rebadged as ‘Duratec’. The biggest talking point has been the introduction of the 225bhp Focus ST, or more to the point, the garish orange paint job that is an option. Featuring the same turbo-charged 2.5 litre engine found in the Volvo T5 aka the police pursuit teams’ car of choice; it goes without saying the ST has enticed a further influx of interest from the small number of people who seemingly don't already own a derivative of the Focus.
A slight facelift throughout the Focus range is expected later this year, meaning used Ford prices should be ever more competitive for second hand buyers to grab a bargain. Now that's something an engineer, call centre worker and council worker can agree on - other than taking the michael out of me.
Kevin Creese is a motoring enthusiast and Journalist. He is currently working on behalf of http://www.sandicliffe.co.uk/ promoting their used Ford Range .